Sunday, February 12, 2012

29/29 - TWELVE: My First Motorcycle

91 Vulcan 500
My first motorcycle. I had been puttering around on a borrowed  little Honda 125, but when it was time for me to return the Honda we picked up a somewhat neglected Vulcan 500. Frankly I still think this bike is the perfect size for me.

I named her Sophie. She wasn't the prettiest bike, kind of sway-backed, and she had a couple of dings on each side of her tank. Sophie had a few problems, but she ran reasonably well and was fairly dependable. I only had her a couple of months at most. Her gas mileage was terrible, and we didn't realize it at the time but, she only ran on 1 cylinder. Still, she was a firecracker on that 1 cylinder; always felt like a wheelie waiting to happen.

I rode her one last time after the engine was fixed and dang, she was a fast little thing. Quick on 1 cylinder. Scary quick with two - at least to this noobie rider. Even her replacement, a bigger, heavier Suzuki 800 was more sedate. At the time I really wanted another, newer Vulcan 500. But I wanted to set her up for touring, and there aren't many hardbags or racks made for 500s.

We sold her to a local fellow who strangely enough used a bicycle helmet when he rode her home. Hopefully he's since picked up some better gear.


  1. This looks like a sweet little starter bike. I love those handle bars!

  2. Bluekat - Your Dophie reminds me of Scarlett! Love the 500, perfect size and tons of pep. Hmmm maybe you should be looking for another Sophie.

  3. I never thought of the Vulcans as being swayback, but I do now, lol. Thanks for that.

    I too hope the new owner found some better gear.

  4. Wow that seat is low. It's a nice-looking bike. But if you are not very tall, wasn't it hard with that windshield? The one thing I hated about my V-Star 1300 Tourer was the very tall windshield that I had to look through often. It made riding in the rain or at twilight/night quite challenging.

  5. 500cc to 650cc seems like a wonderful size. It does nearly everything one could want and most of the time reasonable on gasoline usage. You definitely pointed out an advantage to having two cylinders, if one goes......there is always another.

  6. I had this funny picture come to mind when you talked about the difference in how it ran with one or two cylinders.

    I can picture you riding along holding a spark plug wire in one hand. That would be "economy" mode. When you got ready to pass somebody I could see you plugging in the other wire for "race" mode!

  7. @ Sonja,
    I'd forgotten they were kind of tall, and probably a little rusty. :)

    @ Dar,
    Nah, I'm happy with my Sam. :)

    @ Trobairitz
    I think the sway-back thing was a style of that era. I've seen a few others bikes that way. What were they thinking!

    The windshield looks really tall in that photo, but I actually could see over the top. I'm not tall, but it worked.

    @ Keith
    I agree. I feel the need for nothing bigger.I just wish some of the nice features found on bigger bikes would trickle down to the smaller ones. for instance an adjustable windscreen would be nice.

    @ Irondad
    Nah, I hate economy mode - all the power all the time!
    Vrooom, vrooom! ;)

  8. BlueKat:

    I didn't realize it at the time that I probably owned a cruiser, even though I prefer "standards" (Upright seating). I had a Suzuki GS1100L, which was the lowrider version of the standard. It had swept back handlebars and a very low seat, but it was a 4 cyclinder and went like a rocket

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. On my Suzuki my feet were forward, and while it wasn't horrible, it wasn't really the way I liked to sit, plus big bumps were very jarring on the spine. I prefer a standard seating position as well.

      I bet it went like a rocket. Ron's old Suzi was quite peppy and she was pretty much worn out.